We are sending our kids the wrong message. Muscle websites, social media tough guys and even health teachers are filling their minds with absurd information about strength training.
Here are some common sense answers to oft-asked questions to get your kids on track.
What sort of training is appropriate for kids?
Rather than focusing on powerlifting or bodybuilding, young children should train to increase balance, coordination, agility, quickness, stability, strength, foot speed, reaction time, body awareness and cognitive ability. All of these are possible without touching a weight.
Developing those abilities will give young athletes a huge competitive advantage. As kids grow, their muscles get longer and they lose stability in their joints, which exposes them to a high risk of injury. Training the proper qualities and movements will reduce the injury risk and increase athletic performance and potential.
How can we get kids to train?
Training is boring, and children want to have fun. Rather than spending a few minutes trying to teach a group of young children how to Hip-Hinge or Squat, make up a game that does the work for you. Competition keeps kids interested and allows you to accomplish your goal for the session.
Pirates is a great game to keep young kids active and interested.
My kid plays baseball. Should his training be sport-specific?
Young athletes should not compete in only one sport, much less specifically train for one. Sport-specificity at a young age creates a high risk of injury. Repetitive motion over an extended period, such as swinging a bat or throwing a ball, may increase efficiency of the movement, but it does so at the expense of overall health.
Kids should be encouraged to play as many sports as possible and participate in training that will help them become better athletes. Focusing on one sport should only occur once you know your future depends on how well you perform—for example, when you start getting recruited to play college sports.